How To Care for Formica Cinerea

Hi guys! I hope you’re doing well!

Today we are going to learn how to care for a very cool species of ant: Formica cinerea. By the end of the video, you will have all the information you need to start growing your own Formica cinerea colony all by yourself!

Let’s get into it!


Document icon

If you don’t have time right now to read the care guide, don’t worry! You can download it and read it whenever you like! Download the CV of this species by using the button below!


A Formica cinerea colony inside a ytong nest

Formica cinerea is a medium-sized fast-growing species of ant, very easy to find all across the European continent. If provided with the right nutrients and temperature, the colonies of this species can easily reach 10.000 workers in less than 4 years!

Like other species from the same genus, the workers of Formica cinerea can spray formic acid. They use this highly effective defense system to fight any potential enemy that tries to attack the colony, forcing them to flee.

They also use this natural weapon to hunt for food, attacking every insect that they find on their way.

This species of ant like to move in a very fast and irregular way, making it harder for the ant keeper to track the movement of every ant in the setup. This can become a problem during the regular maintenance of the outworld, when the chance of having escapees is at its highest level.

Go pro! 👑

All your favorite BRUMA Ants content… with a plus! With BRUMA Ants Plus you will get an immense amount of exclusive materials! Unlock all these amazing perks by subscribing to the premium version of BRUMA Ants!

The workers of this species range between 5 and 8 mm. Like for most ant species, the queen of Formica cinerea is bigger than the workers, with a size of approximately 12mm.

Formica cinerea is monogyne, meaning that the colonies of this species accept only one queen. However, in some rare cases, multiple queens can start a colony together.

The nuptial flights of this species usually occur in the summer, between June and early August.


Map icon
Formica cinerea map




Indoor introduced

Needs verification

No Records

Maps by


Thermometer icon


Speedometer icon


This species of ant is very adaptable to temperature changes. They do not have very strict temperature requirements, and they can easily be kept at room temperature.

However, the ideal temperature for this species is between 21 and 27 degrees Celsius. If you live in a cold area or you usually use an air conditioner in the room your ants are in, maybe a heat mat or a heat cable could be useful.

Formica cinerea worker inside a tube

By raising the temperature of the nest the metabolism of the brood will accelerate, reducing the time needed for the ant to fully develop into adults.

If provided with the right temperature and humidity levels, the colonies of Formica cinerea can grow extremely fast! When they reach a certain worker count, they start to grow exponentially, reaching outstanding numbers in a few years’ time!


Waterdrop icon


Speedometer icon


They like a range of moisture levels that go from 50% to 60%. One thing you have to consider is that, like most ant species, Formica cinerea doesn’t like dry climates!

If you notice that your nest dries out too quickly, you may have to consider changing the setup a bit. You can rearrange the elements of your formicarium, in order to create an environment that better maintains moisture levels.

If you have a natural setup, you can easily increase the moisture level by spraying some water using a spray bottle, like the one used in gardening. You can also add some moisture retention materials, like some piece of wood or a bark substrate.


Hamburger icon

Like almost every ant species, Formica cinerea needs some dose of sugar for the workers and some protein for the queen and the brood.

Given their fast growth rate, they need a lot of protein.

Proteins are the building blocks of every animal body, and are essential for the development of the ants. The queen needs protein for the production of the eggs, which will grow into larvae and then into pupae.

During the life cycle of the ant from egg to adult worker, the brood needs a lot of protein to successfully complete the various stage changes. Once the body of the ant is fully formed, the need for protein fades out, and the need for sugar takes its place.

Sugar water should do the job fairly well, providing the colony with a lot of energy. Honey is also a very good source of sugar, maybe mixed with some water. If you wanna go for the best possible sugar source, the Ant Antics sugar snaps are the product for you!

Ant Antics sugar snaps

With these fantastic colorful little bottles you can give your ants a very high-quality source of sugar, fueling their all-day-long working routine! With the sugar snaps you can be sure about one thing: your ants are going to love them!

As a source of protein, you can give them almost every type of insect. In the wild they usually eat crickets, different types of worms, fruit flies, and spiders.

If you’re watching this video, there’s a high chance you’re just starting out, and you just caught or bought your first Formica cinerea queen ant. If that’s the case, you don’t have to worry too much about feeding at this stage.

That’s because Formica cinerea is a fully claustral species, which means that the queen won’t need to eat for at least a month, until she has her first workers.

She especially doesn’t need protein right now, because she can obtain the protein she needs from the decomposition of her wing muscles. However, If you want, you can give her a little drop of honey. That should give her the right amount of energy she will need to start her own ant colony!


Snowflake icon


Speedometer icon


Like most European ant species, Formica cinerea needs hibernation. They hibernate through the winter, from around late October to early March. They need at least a couple of months of diapause, a biological phase in which the queen doesn’t lay eggs.

This phase is very important for the health of the queen, and it’s the only time in the whole year when she can peacefully take some rest.

For this species, the ideal temperature for hibernation is between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius. I would not suggest going a lot lower than this, because in some cases it could create some problems in the long-term growth of the colony.

If you haven’t any available refrigerator you can put the colony in the basement or in the garage, where the temperature is not too low and not too high.

If you’re a beginner ant keeper and this is your first hibernation, I would strongly suggest you check out this other guide! Here I explain in detail every aspect of this complex process called hibernation! What it is, why ants hibernate, and what are the most effective ways to hibernate your beloved ants!

Nest Type

House icon

Ytong Nest

DIY ytong ant nest

In my opinion, when it comes to choosing a formicarium for Formica cinerea, the best choice would be a Ytong nest.

Ytong is a particular type of aerated concrete, usually used in construction. It is very popular in ant keeping for its moisture-retention properties, and it’s perfect for housing a colony of this species.

Another advantage of using this type of nest is that it creates a strong contrast with the ants. The workers of this species are of a very dark color, almost black, and given that the Ytong is almost always completely white, it makes watching the ants extremely easy and enjoyable!

You can easily find this type of nest online. If you instead like DIY projects or if you don’t wanna spend a lot of money on a nest, this material is very easy to sculpt! You can easily create all the chambers just by using a screwdriver!

Online you can find a lot of tutorials on how to build one of these! Like this one!

Sandwich Nest

Antstore antcube arena combi

Another valid option for housing this species could be a more classic sandwich nest setup. This type of nest is perfect for observing the ants dig tunnels in the dirt, creating the structure of the formicarium as they like.

This simple type of nest structure consists of two acrylic plates placed together, separated by a small space filled with dirt. Using this clever solution, the ant keeper gets all the advantages of a natural dirt-based setup, plus the fact that with this one you can easily see the nest chambers!

If you are interested in this type of nest, I would suggest you check out this review! It’s the amazing glass sandwich nest in the picture above, made by the German company Antstore!

Acrylic Nest

WaKooshi mercury nest


Discount icon

Get this extremely cool ant nest on the WaKooshi online shop! Use the discount code “BRUMA” to get 10% off your entire order!


Click to copy

Last but not least, an acrylic ant nest. These particular types of nests are made using some kind of plastic, and are optimal for housing almost every species of ant!

Usually, they are made of a series of acrylic layers mounted on top of one another to create the nest’s structure. With this building technique, the pieces are extremely tight to one another, leaving no gaps between the layers.

Another variation of the acrylic nest is the test tube-based ant nest. As the name suggests, these types of formicarium are based on the test tube setup, considered by many to be the gold standard of ant nests!

If you like this concept, I would suggest you check out this product review! It’s the review of the extremely cool ant nest in the picture above!


Camera icon
A Formica cinerea colony inside a ytong nest
A Formica cinerea colony inside a ytong nest
A Formica cinerea colony inside a ytong nest
A Formica cinerea colony inside a ytong nest
A Formica cinerea colony inside a ytong nest
previous arrow
next arrow

I hope you have found this guide helpful!

Closed test tube setup

If you just found your queen and wanna know how to create the perfect environment for her, check out this guide on how to make a test tube setup! This is the perfect way to start your ant colony!

Thank you!

A massive thank you to all the BRUMA Ants Plus subscribers who make it possible for us to continue creating amazing ant keeping content for you all!

Real-world impact!

Thanks to the BRUMA Ants Plus subscribers and our partner Ecologi we are planting lots of trees all around the world! Click on the Ecologi logo to see the real-world impact of this amazing community!

Join our Discord!

Great news! Now we have a Discord server! Discover the ultimate hub for ant enthusiasts, where ant keepers from around the world come together to share their passion!

Have your say!

Do you wanna help us make a better website? Do you have some critiques or cool ideas you wanna share with us about our website? Help us make a better website by answering this quick customer satisfaction survey!

BRUMA Ants logo

If you like the content,

subscribe to our channel!